New York City can in many ways be described as the hub of rap music. Jay-Z, Notorious BIG, the Beastie Boys and many more all hail from the Big Apple so it’s not surprising the streets of the city come up in their music.
Street artist Jay Shells is plotting the exact locations mentioned in songs in his new project “Rap Quotes.”
With a little help from his friends, Shells came up with a list of song lyrics that mention specific corners or spots in New York City.
Shells created signs with these lyrics and then went on a scavenger hunt to place them in the exact locations mentioned.
A graphic designer by professions, Shells created the 30 signs on his own dime. Each sign costs approximately $20 to make.
“Doing this was my way of contributing to the culture that I love so much,” he said. “I’ve been listening to this music my whole life. I’m a visual artist, not a musician so this is my contribution.”
The song that sparked the project was ‘Lifestylez Ov Da Poor And Dangerous’ by Big L who raps, “on 139 Lenox Ave there’s a big park and if you’re soft don’t go through it when it gets dark.”
Many of the signs, quoting the likes of Mos Def, Nas, GZA and Kanye West have already been taken down, presumably by people who want them as art for their homes.
“I knew people were going to steal them,” Shells said. “Hopefully this is just a blueprint for something more permanent.”
Shells said he would like to get permission from the city to create long-lasting street art.
In the meantime Shells has another six Rap Quotes ready to be put up including two in Staten Island, the only borough not represented so far. He also has another 10 signs designed on a computer and waiting to be printed.
Only this time, Shells plans on placing the signs in harder-to-reach spots in hopes they won't be stolen again.
You can follow the Rap Quotes Twitter feed for updates on the signs.
Follow Mary Ann Georgantopoulos on Twitter @marygeorgant